2D to 3D tool

January 30, 2007

On the Autodesk Labs web there is a new Inventor tool – “2D to 3D”. It should assist on making 3D models from standard 2D views. You can start with 2D front, top, side, etc. views of a part (imported from AutoCAD or taken from a paper drawing) and make a 3D model semi-automatically.

I have played with this utility for a while but I need to learn it better – it still takes time to make a 3D model from 2D views. Maybe I have expected too much – some fully automatic process. And the tool is still in beta – Autodesk calls its Labs tools “technology preview“.


The Task Scheduler thing

January 28, 2007

Our projects in Inventor usually generate lots of final drawings that have to be printed and handed over to the customer. In an ideal situation we would hand over only a couple of DWF files. But we are not living in a perfect world, most customers still need paper drawings, with stamps and signatures.

In AutoCAD, I have solved this with the Batch print utility and plotted all the DWG files at once. Inventor has no such batch print utility. But there is an underestimated Inventor tool – the Task Scheduler. You can use it also to print a batch of Inventor files. Just select which files to print or plot, select the printer and let it run. It will open the selected files one by one and print them to the selected device.

Really a timesaver at the end of the project.

JT format in Inventor

January 25, 2007

Customer is king. Despite we are using DWF to communicate our data in most cases, one customer demanded the model in the JT format. I didn’t know this format but finally have found that Inventor 11 can directly save parts and assemblies to the .jt export format – simply by File, Save as , JT files.

And I have heard that Autodesk may also support JT in future versions of DWF Viewer.

DWF works well for us

January 24, 2007

Me and my collegues are often communicating our CAD data with other vendors and our customers. They are using both Autodesk and non-Autodesk CAD software and no CAD software at all so it is not always easy to agree on a file format for data sharing.

Traditionally we have used DWG, DXF, SAT and PDF. Lately we have very good experience with DWF. The main problem with it is to force the partner to install the DWF viewer. But then DWF offers impressive functions – our customers like best the live sections performed on Inventor 3D models. This cannot be done with other methods of sending CAD data. On the other hand the function which is missed mostly is measuring – both in 2D and in 3D DWFs. I understand that this function is in the Design Review program but we can hardly force our customers to buy a special program to view our data.

We have decided to convert our old PDF archives to the DWF format. This was done with the Autodesk DWF Writer installed as a printer in Windows. We have just printed the PDF files from Acrobat Reader to this “DWF printer”. Quite easy.

Inventor on my new workstation

January 24, 2007

I have been using Autodesk Inventor since version 9 for moderate size assemblies. Like probably many users of 3D CAD software, I was always struggling with performance. My edits and drawing views were updating quite slowly.

Now I am using Inventor 11 and my company bought me a new workstation at the end of the last year – HP xw4400 with Intel Core 2 Duo processor @2.4GHz. As I understand it, Inventor 11 is not a multi-threaded application. That’s why I was surprised to find how much faster is Inventor running now compared to similary equipped single-core machine. Both assembly editing and drawing view regens are much faster. Windows is probably distributing systems tasks between both cores freeing more power for Inventor itself.